Category Archives: Get Involved

Interesting activities to get involved in related to charities, conservation, and research.

African Wildlife Encounter #2: African Wild Dogs with Puppy

On this day while in Tembe Elephant Park we were working to habituate three African Wild Dogs (also called Painted Dogs) to the sound of the vehicle. The goal was to get them used to our vehicle so that we could both identify all the members of the pack, check their health, and eventually dart them for translocation to a safer area. To do this, we routinely had to locate the alpha female which wears a radio-collar and place parts from a dead Nyala or Impala on the ground, chained or tied to a tree.

A recording of Painted Dogs making a kill was played and usually after 10-20 minutes the pack would have found us and sniffed out the free food. This was the first time that we saw the puppy come out from its den.

Painted Dog pups typically den for their first several weeks, suckling from their mother and, when they’re old enough, eating food regurgitated to them from their older pack members or small bits of food brought back for them. After only a couple of months they must be strong enough to follow the pack’s nomadic lifestyle and keep up on the exciting hunts. Once old enough to keep up with the pack, Painted Dogs typically let the youngest eat first to make sure that they have enough nourishment, which is why we see the adult deferring to the youngest member. The twittering sounds heard int his video mostly come from this feisty pup who is excited to have this feast and also bravely guarding his meal!

Like their canine cousins, Painted Dogs give birth to several pups per litter. Unfortunately the little pup in the video, probably 8-12 weeks old, was the only survivor. While it’s not uncommon for pups to be lost due to weakness or disease, it’s most likely that predator persecution by lions was the cause of this pup losing its siblings.

The pup was very strong and active during the observation period, as shown in this video. The high-pitched vocalizations that are heard are characteristic of Painted Dogs and serve as a means of expressing excitement over their meal and letting others in the pack know that there is food to share.

More Information:

Many people have mistaken the African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus) as a diseased Wolf, Domestic Dog, or even Jackal. However there are several defining visual characteristics which set the African Wild Dog apart from its distant relatives in the Canidae family. The most obvious feature is the coloration of its coat. Often they have three distinct colors represented: white, black, and tan, although there are some dogs with little or no white. Close-up, it’s also easier to make out their ears which are larger than a similarly-sized dog’s or wolf’s and much more rounded than triangular.

African Wild Dogs are better described by their other name, “Painted Dogs,” because they are naturally wild and evolved independently from the other extant species in the Canidae family, which includes Wolves, Jackals, Coyotes, and Domestic Dogs. Painted Dogs live in packs with usually around a dozen members, but packs have been observed with three times that many members. They are among Africa’s most successful hunters. Painted Dogs achieve their goals at least 30% of the time, about twice as often as large cats including Lions which may hunt as a pride.

Unlike Lions and other species that live in a close-knit group, Painted Dogs often let their young eat first. This suggests that the dogs are not only grouping for social reasons, but because they are stronger as a pack and only as strong as their weakest member.

Southern Africa 2014: What I enjoyed most about volunteering in Zimbabwe

The most enjoyable aspects of volunteering in Zimbabwe break down into three simple parts: the people and culture of the region, the great food that made every meal a morale-boosting focal-point of the day, and the incredible experiences gained through encountering the wildlife we were there to learn about and help protect.

People & Culture

Overall I had a great experience volunteering with the IAPF in Zimbabwe. The opportunity to work and camp alongside experienced anti-poaching rangers was phenomenal and gave me a lot of insight into what everyday life is like in the wild of Africa as well as what the local people are like. Everyone that I met during my adventure was very welcoming and friendly, even those not affiliated with the tourism industry. I also had a great time with the other volunteers and we interacted well with the many rangers at camp and as we participated in their patrols and training.

During day-to-day interaction with the rangers we learned a tremendous amount from where the best place to stand in camp to get cellular coverage to how to select elephant dung to burn in the campfire to keep mosquitoes away. Learning bush survival tips from the rangers was one of my favorite aspects of the entire trip and allowed a chance for the volunteers to interact casually with the rangers while still learning the ropes. We also had opportunities while on some of the patrols to get to know the rangers personally and find out whether they were married, how many kids they had, and what their aspirations for their children were. Many of the rangers wanted their sons to be involved in conservation as well.

Over the course of my trip I had a couple chances to experience the local culture and way of life, but much of that required cutting through the tourist-friendly façade. Most of the white Zimbabweans that lived locally and worked in the tourism industry worked in the area of wildlife conservation or in high-value occupations, like helicopter pilot, that require education and experience most easily gained in expensive foreign universities. Most of the black Zimbabweans that lived locally were either unemployed (officially, unemployment in the country is 80%) or working at all levels of the tourism industry from making carvings, running shops, and operating safaris. It was sad to see such income disparity dividing the people of Zimbabwe and due to its past of being a colony and a minority-ruled country Zimbabwe now has strict regulations relating to operating a business and the way that ownership is shared. Despite these vastly different lifestyles and the political and economic problems in the region Zimbabwe was still a great place to visit.

Great Food

Africa has some great traditional foods and with the strong tourism industries in many of the countries in southern Africa there is a huge fusion of cuisines catering to tourists from all over the world. Indian food has a strong following, as does traditional western fare, but the fusion of African and western foods blended together exciting flavors and made for a great dining experience.

Nsima Relishes (mealie pap or corn meal with relishes) by Jpatokal on wikipedia.org

The above photo shows three relishes or flavorful toppings and in the top-right corner is nsima in the Chichewa language, but also known as sadza in the Shona language, and mealiepap in Afrikaans. Because Africa has over two thousand recognized languages there can be a lot of different terms for a single dish and often the most popular and common languages are understood across language borders.

In the region I was in we called it sadza and sometimes mealiepap, but its name also depends on how its served. While in Zimbabwe we had sadza, which as a staple food was served the traditional way: as a side to virtually any main dish. Since sadza is just corn-meal it acts like potatoes would in the west: as a heavy starch that goes well with fish, pork, red meats, and all kinds of vegetables. In South Africa it’s commonly made into a breakfast porridge and served with only a bit of butter or peanut butter. Any way you have it, it’s a great way to get some long-term energy and is especially great for long days outdoors.

While volunteering with the anti-poaching rangers we were camped more than an hour away from the nearest town. We didn’t and couldn’t partake in the tourist food and restaurants while on duty and couldn’t afford the expense, either. However when we were near our main area of operation we were able to have the majority of our meals at a central facility and there was a chef dedicated to the task. This benefit our time management by streamlining our schedules to make sure that we never went hungry before going out on patrol and by keeping us focused on our duties rather than shopping, preparing, and serving food. Of course, we were responsible for cleaning up after a meal, which followed my thoughts on Meal Planning, Cooking, and Cleaning in the Field.

We were very lucky to have the luxury of a dedicated team member to prepare and cook for us. Good food, including fresh-baked bread and fresh vegetables, helped to keep morale high and our chef knew exactly how large our portions should be to keep active people well-fed and healthy. He had a great sense of taste and while he wasn’t always able to use the most diverse ingredients due to cost and our remoteness to a grocery store he always created meals that we looked forward to eat. That the volunteers in the group represented four continents didn’t pose a problem and every meal the chef made for us was excellent and familiar to our varied tastes.

Amazing Wildlife

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As volunteers we had the opportunity to go on game walks — hikes through the bush to observe wildlife — provided to us by professional game guides. These were very different than our patrols or snare sweeps and didn’t carry the ominous feel of walking into the unknown that sometimes hit us as we ventured through thick brush or climbed up rocky hills. Each game guide’s duty was to help us move through the wilderness safely and remain respectful of any animals that me might encounter indirectly through their tracks or directly. Understanding animal behavior, being able to read tracks and sign, and having the clear-headed view and insight to keep our group out of harms way takes years to learn and only a few individuals can be certified as game guides, a role that we all deeply appreciated. We also had at least one ranger with us as an extra set of eyes and ears, but who was also trained and legally allowed to use the right amount of force in the event of an encounter with a dangerous individual.

Our game walks provided a great experience to move freely through the region, taking in the changing terrains as much as possible while learning about the plants and trees that are used by the animals but also for wilderness survival. Many of the game guides offered up a lot of fascinating information on how different plants could be used for making rope, which leaves and bark were used as traditional medicines, and how different flora affected the environment around them. Having the game guides around was a fantastic learning experience and they helped to keep us from walking into trouble. Just as important, the opportunity to walk with these qualified individuals didn’t cost us anything beyond what we had paid for the program, which saved the volunteers a lot of money and didn’t put pressure on us to “get our money’s worth.”

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The game walks and game drives also allowed us to get close to wildlife in a safe and respectful way. Many safaris that tourists experience in quick tours of the bush end up startling the animals that people are paying so much to see, ruining the opportunity to take photos and see animals in their natural element. But by approaching elephants and buffalo, two of the most dangerous animals on the continent, with respect and with the guidance of the game guides and rangers we were able to observe much longer than most tourists.

If you’re interested in participating in conservation adventures jump over to the Get Involved page. If you’d like to learn more about the importance of wildlife conservation and anti-poaching methods that can assist in protecting the world’s wildlife and improve standards of living for humans please view our Objectives page. To make a financial commitment to preserving our wildlife please take a look at the Conservation Organizations & Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers featured on the Conservation Groups page for featured recommendations and details.

Southern Africa 2014: My Anti-Poaching Volunteer Experiences in Zimbabwe

Disclosure: Due to the sensitive nature of the areas and properties that I visited I won’t be going into detail about specific locations of animals, times of activities, number of individuals or animals involved, or other information that might pose a security risk to those that work or volunteer in the area. Rangers and civilians across Africa and Asia die every day protecting our wildlife and it’s vital when talking about these situations that we remember that maintaining Operational Security helps keep those who work and operate in wildlife conservation areas safe.

Resources on Zimbabwe:
Atlas of Zimbabwe on Wikimedia.org
BBC's Zimbabwe Country Profile (2013)
Zimbabwe on CIA's The World Fact Book
Zimbabwe on Wikipedia.org

Before leaving for southern Africa I described the kinds of activities I expected to participate in as an anti-poaching volunteer. Having had previous experience with the same group, but in a different country and under different circumstances, I was provided with a broad set of expectations that I pared down to what I thought I was most likely to encounter on this volunteering adventure. My Planning & Gear List also reflected my expectations of the climate, terrain, flora and fauna, and camping conditions that I would encounter. One additional adjustment I had to make to my gear list was removing any camouflage gear from my bags because it’s illegal to wear in Zimbabwe and the clothing or gear can be confiscated by the police (who will then use it or sell it).

Preparation

The duration of my trip to southern Africa was going to be about 20 hours of flight time each way, plus several hours of layovers. Then roughly five weeks in southern Africa spent volunteering and a few days sightseeing. In general I like to pack relatively light, especially when traveling to a country that might become destabilized due to changes in the political structure, but on this trip I packed for three weeks worth of travel with the hopes of being able to wash or launder my gear at least once. Because we were spending a lot of time in remote areas this meant bringing a lot more clothing and more personal supplies than I was used to when camping or hiking in the States and with access to a vehicle. It also meant preparing for situations and weather that weren’t ideal and bringing funds in the appropriate currencies to make safe travel reasonably convenient.

On this trip I did a better job preparing for the climate by bringing a cold-weather sleeping bag that was sufficient for the cool nights and chill wind that brought temperatures down to 4 Celsius (40 degrees F). The sleeping bag I took to South Africa last year was warm, but poorly suited for the near-freezing temperatures we experienced and the intense wind. I also brought more long-sleeved clothing that I could layer and take off as the mornings heated up or put on as the evenings rapidly cooled down. But I also keep long shirts and pants on throughout the day to help keep the sun off, which being so close to the equator was more intense than I had experienced even in the American southwest.

Long pants and long-sleeve shirts also helped keep the insects away. While mosquitoes were almost nonexistent due of the time of year and temperatures we did have problems with other pests that crawled up our sleeves, down our socks, and even into some of the volunteers’ water bottles. On our overnight patrols and operations which included setting up listening posts (LP) and observation posts (OP) we layered on as much clothing as we could, then threw jackets and coats on over top with hats and face masks to keep us warm while laying in the grass, sitting at the top of observation areas, or doing perimeter sweeps.

I wasn’t sure if the volunteers were going to be given proper tents, something that we had last time, thinking that we might be spending time at a barracks or similar building when we were not moving around from property to property. But we did have tents again (see main photo) and they were placed on concrete foundations and thus were quite comfortable and dry. We had the privilege of having roughly one tent for each of us, though sometimes we shared tents while on overnight duties. Overall, the privacy having our own tent afforded us, and the distance it put between me and the volunteers that snored, was priceless.

We also had the luxury of “indoor” flush toilets, as well as a reasonable amount of water which we pumped from a nearby water supply. The water was not potable, but it was sanitary enough to bathe and clean with without having to be treated with chemicals. A benefit of not having to treat the water with chlorine or iodine is that the wastewater can then be discarded without worrying about it dramatically impacting wildlife or plants in the area through pesticide or soluble inorganic matter contamination.

Knowledge & Training

Throughout our time volunteering the volunteers had access to all the knowledge and skills acquired by the rangers, conservationists, game guides, and others that we were there to help but also learn from. We got to watch and experience the way that the areas operated, received lectures and training on a variety of topics including animal tracking, property management, and field medical training which also included points on helicopter evacuation, which is one of the only viable means of transportation while in remote areas. I’ll do my best to pass along information, experience, and notes that I received through these lectures and training courses in future posts.

Because I had some previous experience and was reasonably confident in my knowledge of the properties’ layouts I also got to assist in some management duties which gave me insight into the operational concerns of the camp: the logistics of moving volunteers around, making sure that rangers were able to get to and from their assignments, and dealing with the realities of secure radio communication in less-then-desirable terrain and weather.

I also got to see how the administrators of the foundation ran the anti-poaching side of things and saw how they dealt with any difficulties that they encountered. Being able to shadow former soldiers, professional conservationists, and rangers as they went about their administrative business showed me how much time they invest in planning not just for the day’s events and drills, but also for any eventuality that they can think of, and the time involved in organizing plans that takes time away from other tasks that need to be accomplished. As with any organization there is always a balance between what can be done and what must be done, but it becomes even more apparent with an organization that has to juggle the responsibilities of keeping wildlife and people safe while also fostering a healthy relationship with the surrounding community which can be impacted just as dramatically by poaching, human-wildlife conflict, and poor economic conditions.

I noted some of the planning that goes into successfully operating an organization dedicated to wildlife protection and conservation:

  • Arranging supply runs for food and essentials at regular intervals (which means not going into town in uniform/hiking attire that might tip off outsiders as to the organization’s schedule).
  • Maintaining a rotation of rangers across various duties: patrolling, tracking, security, wildlife management; and also arranging for the rangers to have time off so that they can visit their families and live a reasonably normal life.
  • Paying the bills. Not just for utilities, supplies, and other essentials, but also paying for equipment or salaries for the anti-poaching rangers and volunteers and also maintaining life and health insurance policies for the rangers.
  • Dealing with the schedules of the property owners, management officials, local and national government officials, and generally being on our best behavior as guests in the country.
  • Doing everything by the book and making sure that changes in protocol or government policy are quickly and effectively communicated to others in the organization.
  • Wildlife population and habitat assessment: Determining how many animals of a particular species can survive in an area at current and future levels of forestation, types of vegetation, predation, disease, and other factors.
  • Balancing the conservation resources (such as water) while simultaneously doing as much as possible to protect specific species which are resources in their own right (elephants and rhino) which might mean creating artificial watering holes for specific species to rely on during the dry season.

Voluntary Duty

As volunteers we were never required to do anything that we felt unsafe or uncomfortable doing, however we all did our part to keep the camp and toilet/shower facilities clean and lend a hand to the rangers or others doing menial tasks that are required for day-to-day living in the bush. The volunteers also weren’t required to participate in any of the activities on a given day, but of course the reason we were out there was to participate, so only in rare instances did individuals skip going on a patrol or game walk.

We got to see and learn about a lot of interesting animals, their behaviors, and their roles in the environment. We had the opportunity to operate with some fascinating individuals and get up close to exotic animals, but there were a lot of menial duties that we were given both so that we received an understanding of how hard the employees of the property work and also because we were extra hands available to do such work, whereas rangers, with their unique skills and abilities, were of more use performing their specific duties. While some of the projects the volunteers helped with weren’t very exciting or related to anti-poaching, they were still tasks that were ultimately important to our cause and the groups that run the organization and property.

I had a great time volunteering in Zimbabwe and found the country to be beautiful and, during the winter at least, very hospitable. The tourist activities I participated in were without equal and I’m looking forward to going on more adventures and seeing more of what Africa has to offer in the future. I also enjoyed working alongside and volunteering for the anti-poaching organization that last year I volunteered with in South Africa. They’re great people and don’t compromise their integrity or morals to do a very difficult job.

I’ll go into more depth about some of my experiences in future posts and include some pictures to give a better idea of what the volunteer experience was like. I’ll also discuss what life is like for the various employees, rangers, and conservation experts that have dedicated their lives to these endeavors.

Adventures and Conservation in the News: March 2014

There have been a couple interesting and important articles in the news this month:

[Anti-Poaching] SANParks.org: Rhino Poaching Statistics for January-March 14 (2014) – 172 rhino have been illegally killed in South Africa since the beginning of 2014. The majority of these have occurred in the 19,633 square kilometer (7,580 square mile) Kruger National Park. 54 poachers have been arrested since the beginning of the year across South Africa.

[Conservation] FastCoExist.com: These Drones Don’t Kill People, They Protect Endangered Animals – A brief article on some of the advancements that groups like ConservationDrones.org and the International Anti-Poaching Foundation are making in the development or use of non-military drones for purposes of tracking and conserving wildlife.

[Adventure] NPR.org: Mind the Gap Year: A Break Before College Might do Some Good – Food for thought for high school students and young people interested in putting something unique on their resume above and beyond normal extracurricular activities. There is also a book titled The Complete Guide to the Gap Year by Kristin M. White (Amazon.com link) which has some insight into what kinds of things aspiring college students should do, how deans of college admissions view gap years, and how to finance a gap year. I’ll be writing about this topic as well in a future post.

[Conservation/Anti-Poaching] Mashable.com: Cyberpoaching: Why Hackers Pose a Deadly Threat to Endangered Animals – A brief explanation of new methods that poachers and criminals are using to gain an upper hand in the trade of animal parts.

[Conservation] ArsTechnica.com: Elephants Use Their Smarts to Cope with Human Threats – This article discusses a number of studies which indicate that elephants are able to visually and audibly recognize humans based on what they wear, how they sound, and the noises that we make when approaching. They then use this information to make a threat assessment.

[Wildlife] Phys.org: Do Elephants Call “Human!”? – A great article on a recent study on alarm calls made by elephants. The study suggests what rangers have speculated for years: that elephants can communicate with subsonic and individualized alarm calls for each threat — including humans.

[Shoutout] And a shout-out to a military historian and blogger who is walking and discussing historic sites throughout Europe: War Walks for Health.

Conservation: More Than Just Animals

A lot of high-profile conservation efforts focus on animals: breeding, rehabilitation, protection, or environmental legislation. But conservation also means working with humans and investing in the future for the benefit of our species. Organizations that work in related fields as animal conservation, but don’t work directly with animals may provide opportunities to research genetics, study environmental impacts in diverse biomes, teach agricultural techniques in challenging climates, or improve the living standards of humans in rural areas. Volunteering also provides the opportunity to network with other like-minded individuals that might set you on the path to some new phase of your life you hadn’t yet considered.

Working with the local peoples of a rural town can provide an incredible insight into their society, communication challenges, and a new respect for their traditions and their history. Improving the living standards of people in rural areas also gives them an opportunity to experience your culture and to find new ways of sustaining themselves and probably in a way that’s more harmonious with their environment that most people in developed countries.

That could involve educating locals about modern agriculture techniques, bringing supplies to a village and building them a school, or working with a charity on deploying solar panels to a rural area. Some of these opportunities can range from 1-6 months, but they’re well worth the chance to see and interact with remote parts and peoples of the world.

Learn & Support

If you would like to learn more about how to participate in fundraisers, charity events and charity-sponsored adventures, and humanitarian programs, please see the Get Involved page. If you’re interested in efforts to stop poaching, please take a look at the Objective page and learn how you can have a role in the fight against poaching. If you’re ready to make a financial commitment to our world’s wildlife or donate your time to a conservation or humanitarian group please take a look at the Conservation Organizations & Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers featured on the Donate page.

Choose Your Own Adventure

There are several ways you can get involved in conservation efforts ranging from rehabilitating injured animals to protecting them from harm. You can even provide help researching ways to bring back nearly-extinct species, assist with breeding programs, and work to bring new technologies into the field in communities or ecosystems that need it the most. Some humanitarian programs also offer exciting travel opportunities with enough down-time to adventure on the side.

In some cases you can even raise funds for a charity that means a lot to you and earn yourself an amazing adventure in the process!

Below is a list of organizations I’ve picked out that are reliable and worthwhile. Or visit the Get Involved page on the main site to see the latest links.

Eco-Tourism & Humanitarianism

For a modest donation you can get your hands dirty and volunteer on the front lines of animal conservation or humanitarian aid.

  • International Anti Poaching Foundation – The IAPF provides ranger training and certification for skilled Africans, but also provides volunteer opportunities of 2-4 weeks for eligible foreigners from all over the world through its Green Army programs in southern Africa. Part front-line conservation, and part eco-tourism adventure, the Green Army provides a behind-the-scenes pass into private game reserves, local towns, and receive instruction from highly trained experts in tracking, bushcraft, and ecology. Check the IAPF site for current programs.
  • Save the Rhino International (SRI) – Founded as a charity in 1994, Save the Rhino International has several aspects to its conservation program that include anti-poaching, captive breeding, and environmental education and conservation. The Save the Rhino site doesn’t list any specific conservation volunteer vacancies at the moment, but it does provide contact details for other, possibly affiliated groups offering work or volunteer opportunities in conservation areas, such as private game reserves and animal sanctuaries.
  • Teaching Individuals and Families Independence though Enterprise (TIFIE) Humanitarian – Empowering local communities in Democratic Republic of Congo through education, food security, capital investment, business training, and health welfare TIFIE sponsors projects that provide communities the ability to create better opportunities for themselves and a lasting foundation on which to build success. Contact TIFIE for the latest projects and volunteer opportunities.

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Charity-Sponsored Adventures

Fundraise your way to financing your own adventure! With the following charitable organizations, you can raise money for a great cause and earn yourself the majority of the cost of an adventure sponsored by the charity. Most of these charities require raising a certain amount of funds before you are eligible to participate in an event.

  • Discover Adventure – Designing and operating their own challenges since 1994, Discover Adventure also helps other charities arrange special challenges for volunteers that have earned an adventure by raising a lot of money for their cause of choice. Take part in any of the challenges across South America, Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America. There are bicycle rides through some of the most scenic places in the world including from London, UK to Paris, France; along the Great Wall of China; and along the coast of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Or trek to famous sites like Machu Picchu in Peru; Ancient Petra in Jordan; Angkor Wat in Cambodia; and many more fascinating places.
  • Mines Advisory Group International (or MAG America) – MAG has a number of programs to help those affected by regional conflicts and people living in countries contaminated by munitions such as mines and unexploded ordinance from past conflicts. This is a great charity to raise money for and the organizers work very closely with volunteers to get them started fundraising. After, or during, fundraising volunteers get the opportunity to choose an event to take part in such as summiting Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania; running a marathon in London, UK; or bicycling through Sri Lanka. View their events page for more activities and how to get involved. Events are managed through the UK-branch, but are available to all nationalities.

Pure Adventures

Pay-as-you-go adventures that just happen to have a charitable aspect to them. Much more spontaneous and much more dangerous!

  • Cool Earth & The Adventurists – It sounds like a great band name, but Cool Earth is also a great charity that’s projects empower locals to save their rainforests and end deforestation. The Adventurists run the part of the program that gets volunteers the information they need to chart through own adventure (and maybe some tips to keep you safe along the way). You might have heard of the Mongol Rally: a 16,000 kilometer (10,000 mile) race from the United Kingdom to Mongolia in pitifully small vehicles designed for nothing more challenging than a run to the pub. But there are other challenges, too, such as the 1000km horse race through Mongolia and the 3,500km race through India in only a rickshaw. Raise at least £1000 for charity and you will be eligible to enter. The rest is up to you. Buy your supplies (including a car, if applicable), do the paperwork for visas, find some friends, chart your course, and see if you survive. You’ll undoubtedly make some friends along the way and have a hell of a time doing it. See all the available events at The Adventurists website.

Working on the Front-Line Against Rhino Poaching

In 2013 I had the opportunity to volunteer with the International Anti Poaching Foundation in southern Africa as part of their Green Army program. It put a group of volunteers in roles where we carried out basic, day-to-day activities like sweeping through kilometers of knee-high and chest-high grass looking for snares and patrolling roads, creeks, and kopie (a large rocky out-cropping) for signs of intrusion to poorly protected properties.

Undisclosed Private Reserve
A large koppie — rocky outcropping — in the distance. The guinea pig-like Rock Hyrax (known colloquially as a “dassie”) love these areas.

I learned a lot and it wasn’t only about local conservation methods, invasive species of flora, how to track animals, and even track people. I also learned how difficult it is, first hand, to be out in the bush every day and to have all the odds against you. Although our cause was objectively moral, we were still on the losing side of things and that was emphasized every time we came across the carcass of an animal that maybe we were a couple days too late to save. Or when we found snares that had gone unnoticed by reserve employees for so long that trees had grown around the metal. And that was in what I consider to be only a moderate-risk area.

The below video, titled “Kruger the Eastern Frontier,” is one that the IAPF posted to their YouTube channel and goes into more detail about an area of southern Africa that is probably *the most high-risk* for rhino poaching. The video goes into more detail than I can express in a few paragraphs or even in several pages and explains the situation of this area and why the “life expectancy of a rhino wandering through this fence is less than half a day.” (Please be aware that the video contains some very graphic images in the beginning.)

It’s hard to believe it’s come to that. In 2013 there were 1,004 rhino poached in the country of South Africa alone. There are no statistics for Mozambique, which is rife with violence.

Related Posts:

Overview: Poaching in Africa and Asia

If you would like to learn more about efforts to stop poaching, please take a look at the Objective page and learn why conservation is important and how anti-poaching methods can assist in protecting the world’s wildlife and improve standards of living for humans. If you’re ready to make a commitment to preserving our wildlife, take a look at the Conservation Organizations & Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers featured on the Donate page and choose one that suits you. If you’re ready to get involved in your own adventure then jump over to the Get Involved page.